Nurminen Racing Engineering
Nurminen Racing Engineering is a team founded by former Formula One driver Niko Nurminen to compete in various motorsport series. The name was first used in the 1995 Duel in the Desert, when Nurminen entered the non-championship event as a guest driver under that entry name. The actual racing team, however, was founded as Nurminen Engineering for the 1998 Rejects Touring Car Championship season, but it was later changed to the current name to avoid confusion with actual engineering companies. Nurminen also used the team name when running his cousin Nick Nurmester in Nordic F3 and Formula Two. Until 2010 the team's main sponsor was the mobile phone giant Nokia, but following a downturn in profits they decided to end their support for Nurminen. In 2015, Nurminen was one of the first teams to lodge their entry in the inaugural F1 Rejects Development Series season, and they also took part in a number of races during the same year's F3RWRS season. In July of the same year, Swiss investment company Finanz-Sichereit Konglomerat bought 49% of the team as Niko Nurminen was struggling to find enough money to keep the team going. However, apart from the logos of a few Swiss companies appearing on the cars, it had no effect on the team's functions.
Soon afterwards the team decided to focus on single-seaters and sold their RTCC operation to Ecurie Fabron. This paid off in 2016, as while their first season as a full-time F3RWRS team was rather unsuccessful, they conquered both titles in F1RDS.
The first season as a proper team saw Nurminen take part in the inaugural Rejects Touring Car Championship season, running two Volvos for Nathan Nurmester and Nikolai Nurmovitsch. The first race saw both cars just barely scraping it into the points, while in the second both cars collided with each other and were among the last finishers. At Donington, both cars were again on points in race 1, before a bad qualifying only allowed Nurmovitsch to get in the points in race 2. The series then collapsed due to the organizer Hermann Mann being arrested, and wasn't revived again until 2015.
Nurminen re-entered with the same car and drivers as before, with title sponsor Nokia replaced by an array of other Finnish companies, including the elevator company KONE which already sponsored the team in 1998. However, their return initially wasn't successful, as in the first Oran Park race both cars finished at the bottom of the field, while in the second one both retired. Knockhill gave them more mixed results, with a double retirement in race one being countered by a double points finish in race two. In San Francisco Nurmester brought home points in both races, while Nurmovitsch crashed out in both, sparking rumours about the latter's retirement. Spa was forgettable to the team as a whole, with Nurmester crashing out and Nurmovtsch finishing outside of the points in both races. Nurmester was also banned from the next round due to his collision with Pieter Kickert (who received the same penalty), which led to him being permanently replaced by Ryan Carlton, who was released at the same time from his Twinings Earl Grey Racing contract. This changed little in the way of results, as the team's best result in Suzuka was 16th by Carlton in the first race. At the season finale in Austria the team managed nine points, as Nurmovitsch finished 15th in the first race while Carlton finished 8th and last in the attrition-filled second race after losing his chance at a podium due to a collision.
By then Volvo had had enough of the poor results and removed their factory support from the team. The lack of results had also made the team to lose a lot of sponsors, and with a new full-time F3RWRS program putting an even bigger strain on the team's resources, their RTCC garage and 2016 entry was sold to a group of French investors going under the name Ecurie Fabron. Most of their RTCC personnel moved to the team's other projects.
After securing new sponsorship from a large number of Finnish companies, Neste Oil standing as their title sponsor, Nurminen were the the third team to lodge their entry into the F1 Rejects Development Series, a new championship aimed at bringing new junior talent into the world of RWRS and RoLFS. For their first season they've entered the Finnish Tõnu Pykälistö from Scuderia Alitalia's Giovanile Squadra and Estonian Anu Võsu, a talent they found from the Finnish Formula Ford series. The team originally intended to use Mecachrome engines before Opel-Spiess units became available. The pre-season Winter Cup showed some of the team's potential as Võsu was on points in the first two races while Pykälistö managed a 3rd at the last race. In the first race of the regular season in Australia, Pykälistö finished 8th while Võsu became the race's only retirement following a transmission failure. In San Marino, the team scored big by taking a 1-2 at the first race from 2nd and 4th on the grid, but failed to keep up the pace in the second race and only Pykälistö managed a 6th, while Võsu struggled and finished in 19th, the same spot where she started. However, this decent haul of points meant that both the team and Pykälistö were second in their respective championships after the first three races.
For the next two races Võsu continued to struggle, while Pykälistö was able to score in both. At the second French race however the tables were turned, as Pykälistö finished outside the points for the first time during the whole season while Võsu drove a good race to finish 3rd, her second podium. In Czech Republic Pykälistö returned to his previous form by finishing both races in points, but Võsu performed very badly and was temporarily replaced by Tommi Hämäläinen to give the Finn more seat time after making his Reject Motorsport debut in F3RWRS at the Monaco SuperPrix. In his first race for the team Hämäläinen immediately impressed by being on the podium with 3rd, which was coupled by Pykälistö also being on the points with 7th. The next race didn't go as well, Pykälistö still managing an 8th while Hämäläinen was way back in 18th. Germany was rather forgettable for the team as both cars failed to score points for the first time in the season, and their bad form continued in Belgium where neither car were even close to scoring points.
The penultimate GP in Italy gave the team a slight relief as Pykälistö was able to score four more points with 7th. However, the second car, still driven by Hämäläinen, failed to score again by finishing 19th. For the season finale at Zandvoort, Nurminen decided to put Võsu back into the car to gain more experience as Hämäläinen already had secured a seat in the F3RWRS for next season. Neither car managed to score at the first Dutch round, Pykälistö losing four positions in the last two laps and finishing 12th while Võsu only managed 23rd. However the team managed to cap off the season with a double points-finish, Pykälistö being 8th and Võsu 5th.
For 2016, the team decided to retain Anu Võsu for another season. As both Pykälistö and Hämäläinen moved on to F3RWRS, the team chose Florian Grünewald for the second seat. The pre-season Winter Cup featured very mixed results for the team, as while Võsu ultimately won the whole cup with one victory at the last round in Long Beach, many of Grünewald's races were plagued by car problems and he failed to score a single point in all six races, with a best result of 11th at the second Sonoma race.
Võsu continued her good form in the regular season by finishing 3rd and 9th at the season-opening Spanish round, but Grünewald was once again off the pace and only managed 23rd and 14th. At the next round in Britain Võsu scored another podium in the first start by both qualifying and finishing 2nd, while Grünewald was once again a distant 24th after spinning midway through the race. Another 4th position finish at the second start promoted Võsu second in the WDC standings, but Grünewald's 21st place finish was not good for their Teams' Championship prospects. The single start in Italy was literally pointless for the team, as Võsu was far back in 20th, although Grünewald managed his season best so far by finishing 13th. The disappointment carried on to Austria, where Võsu finished 17th and Grünewald 22nd. By this point the team had seen enough disappointing performances by Grünewald and promptly sacked him, with Thomas Butler moving back from F3RWRS to take the seat.
This seemingly boosted Võsu's morale as she finished 5th and 3rd in the Turkish races, while Butler's time away from the F1RDS machinery showed in the first race as he only managed a 14th place finish. However, in the second race he scored the team's first ever pole position and went on to finish 2nd, which helped the team climb up in the championship. The first French start went perfectly for the team, as Võsu started on pole and led Butler home to score the team's second-ever 1-2 finish. Võsu then failed to score in the second start, finishing 11th, while Butler barely scraped into the points in 9th. In Germany the team suffered their first retirement of the season as Võsu suffered a puncture while leading the race, although Butler was still able to score with a 5th. At Zandvoort they finished back-to-back with Butler 5th and Võsu 6th. Oulton Park proved to be one of their best weekends to date; Võsu started both races on pole, winning the first start and finishing 6th in the second after electronic problems, while Butler was 4th in the first start and inherited the win in the second. With these performances the team suddenly found themselves leading both championships.
The first start in Belgium went well for the team as Võsu won again from pole while Butler scored the team's first ever fastest lap en route to a 3rd place finish. However, in the second start the team had a bad qualifying, and in the race itself Võsu retired with suspension problems while Butler quietly finished 12th, outside of the points. They then suffered a poor weekend at Brno as Võsu was only able to finish 6th in the first start while Butler was outside of the points in 13th, with a double retirement in the second start making their charge for the teams' title a whole lot harder. A hat trick by Võsu and 3rd by Butler at the first start in Japan then clinched the teams' title for them, but the drivers' title went down to the wire as in the second race both cars were out from the points while Võsu's only remaining rival Aimée Gauthier battled for the win. Only an amazing performance by Daniela Anger denied the Frenchwoman from the win she needed to defeat Võsu in the standings, thus allowing NRE to take both titles.
The team appeared in the F1RWRS for the first time in the non-championship 2015 Baltic Sea Grand Prix, running Nick Nurmester and Tommi Hämäläinen. They did well in their first outing, with Hämäläinen finishing 6th and Nurmester 9th after a poor qualifying and troubles in the race as well.
With SAGS refugee Stefan Kuntz bringing in some cash from Vodafone, Nurminen could afford to enter a RWRS-sanctioned event the first time as they took part in the 2015 F3RWRS Monaco SuperPrix as a non-championship guest entry. Kuntz was partnered by Tommi Hämäläinen, a product of Fusion Motorsports' young driver programme who had just recently joined Nurminen's management portfolio. The team performed mediocrely, with Kuntz retiring due to a loose wheel and Hämäläinen quietly finishing 21st. Afterwards the team managed to secure more permanent sponsors, and while Kuntz fell out with Vodafone's management, he was able to lure in Agfa as the team's semi-permanent sponsor.
In the buildup to the German F3RWRS round, Takagi Racing Enterprises failed to nominate a replacement to the banned Hendra Naufal in time. As a result they were banned for competing in the round, and because Nurminen were the first team on the reserve list they were granted Takagi's entry for Germany and eligibility for championship points for the rest of the season. Enrico Molinaro was given the first car as he was already on the track for the F2RWRS race (for which he eventually failed to prequalify), while for the second car Niko Nurminen signed Ragnar Larsen, who had just recently been taken under his management. In their first non-SuperPrix outing they hardly made an impact, as Larsen was the better one of the two by finishing 19th while Molinaro was 24th after being involved in a number of collisions. The story was similar in the second race, only this time Larsen was as high as 16th, while Molinaro diced in the top 10 before dropping down to 18th due to a collision with Dale Hamilton.
At Spa, their third outing of the season, Larsen was involved in a very serious collision and was nearly taken out, but eventually managed to limp home in 29th. Meanwhile, amidst all the chaos, Jari Lappalainen had a very strong race and eventually managed 14th, the team's best F3RWRS result to date. The huge repair costs incurred in these F3RWRS outings were one of the main reasons for selling part of the team to FSK.
Fielding three cars a the Surfers Superprix, the team scored their debut points when Renato Bulku, who had impressed in his debut RoLFS season, finished 4th while Lappalainen managed 10th. In the third car Diego Álvarez Torrente, another RoLFS recruit, had a very poor qualifying session and only managed to finish 25th.
For the 2016 season, the team fielded Ragnar Larsen and Italian rookie Oliviero Cinotti, who brought with himself some much-needed cash from Barilla. The team originally considered using Lancia engines, but lost out in the fight for the limited supply of them and instead settled for Mugen-Honda power, coupled with the well-proven Dallara chassis. Herberto Dominguez was later confirmed as their reserve driver.
In the first two races of the season at Adelaide, Larsen brought the team points with a 13th in the first start, but suffered a water leak in the second start while being in another good position. Meanwhile Cinotti was consistent if unspectacular by finishing 18th and 17th, respectively. At the British round Larsen finished 18th in the first race, but then triggered a first-lap collision in the second start which also took out Tommi Hämäläinen, one of the drivers managed by Nurminen. As Cinotti again failed to score with 25th and 17th place finishes, Nurminen announced that both drivers could be replaced soon if results didn't improve. In Italy the results were even worse with Larsen in 24th and 20th and Cinotti in 30th and 33rd, with Cinotti being involved in collisions in both races. At the Pau SuperPrix Larsen finished 27th after poor strategy calls by the team, while Cinotti retired late in the race with electrical problems. At the Canadian race - shortened to one start due to bad weather - both cars finished back to back in 22nd and 23rd, with Cinotti ahead of his more experienced team mate.
Despite scoring the team's only points in the season so far, Larsen was replaced in favor of Dominguez prior to the German round of the championship. A new qualifying system was introduced mid-season, and Cinotti failed to qualify while Dominguez crashed out in the first start at Norisring. Both cars then made it through to the second start, and Dominguez scored the team's first points since the opening round with a 12th place finish while Cinotti was not too far off in 18th. Both cars then crashed out from the Zandvoort SuperPrix.
Complete Motorsports results
F1RDS Winter Cup
|2015||Opel-Spiess 2.0L L4 DOHC||1||2||3|
|2016||VW-Cosworth 2.0L V6||1||2||3||4||5||6|
|2015||Opel-Spiess 2.0L L4 DOHC||AUS||SME||MON||FRA||CZE||GBR||GER||BEL||ITA||NED||4th||107|
|2016||VW-Cosworth 2.0L V6||SPA||GBR||ITA||AUT||TUR||FRA||GER||NED||ENG||BEL||CZE||JAP||1st||254|
|2015||Dallara F3R15||Zytek ZT288||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||14th|
|Diego Álvarez Torrente||25|
|2016||Dallara F3R16||Mugen-Honda MF316||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||7*||21st*|
* A pink background indicates drivers ineligible for points
* Season in progress
† Driver did not finish, but was classified for completing 90% or the race distance